New solar telescope reveals the surface of the Sun in greater detail than ever before

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope has captured its first light image: a jaw-dropping view of the surface of the Sun in unprecedented detail.

A view of the Sun's surface captured by the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

This, the most detailed view of the Sun ever captured, is the ‘first light’ image of the National Science Foundation’s new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. In it, we can see features as small as 30km on the solar surface.

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The cell-like structures that fill the telescope’s view are a result of convection flows, whereby the Sun’s internal heat causes plasma to rise in the centre of the cells, before cooling and sinking back down in dark lanes.

Bright specks within the dark cracks are the markers of magnetic fields, channelling energy up into the Sun’s outer layer; its corona.

The image above covers an area 36,500km2, and each cell is about three times the area of the UK.

Here’s a zoomed-in version of the image that provides an even closer look at the detail on the surface of the Sun.

A view of the Sun's surface captured by the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

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Observatory Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope

Release date 29 January 2020

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Image credit NSO/AURA/NSF